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Thursday, 25 September 1941

Senator MCBRIDE - No, no!

Senator COLLINGS - The Minister for Munitions will not deceive the Opposition with his " No, no ". Does he mean by his interjection that we, on this side, sat silent and passed this expenditure knowing that it was to be used in a certain way, and that therefore we were accessories after the crime? The Minister knows that that is not so.

Senator McBride - I never suggested it.

Senator COLLINGS - I say that not one penny of the money paid to the Australian Democratic Front ever appeared on the Estimates which were submitted to this chamber in a way which any one without inside knowledge could understand.

Senator Spicer - The honorable senator surely does not expect that the names of persons to be paid out of a secret fund will be included in the Estimates?

Senator MCBRIDE - Parliament has acted in this way for 25 years.

Senator COLLINGS - No Labour Government has done so. I fling the lie back in the teeth of the interjector. I repeat that no Labour Government has operated a fund to finance the Australian Democratic Front or any other organization.

Senator Foll - We will let it go.

Senator COLLINGS - The Government would be well to do so, because the Opposition refuses to be a party to this infamy.

I have imperfectly expressed my detestation of what has gone on. I realize the restraint imposed upon me by the necessity to choose moderate language in condemnation of what I believe to be a real political crime. I say now, in conclusion, that, if the people of this country had known in September of last year what was going on in order to keep the present Government in power--

Senator Leckie - Nonsense !

Senator COLLINGS - Mr. WilliamMorris Hughes is Attorney-General and Minister for the Navy, and his colleagues in the Ministry either knew or did not know what was going on. If they knew, they were accessories to the crime ; if they did not know, they revealed an ignorance which proves their incapacity to hold Cabinet office. I believe that the colleagues of the Attorney-General did know what was going on. The Australian Democratic Front issued nine pamphlets, five of which were reprints of speeches made by the AttorneyGeneral. If the issue of those pamphlets was not a misuse of public funds in order to keep the present Government in officeI cannot explain it otherwise.

Senator MCBRIDE - Has the honorable senator read the pamphlets?

Senator COLLINGS - I have no more to say on this subject. This paper will be printed, and I assume that in due course a royal commission will be set up. I know that the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives will be consulted in regard to the terms of reference. All that I ask is that all of the facts shall be forced into the open. So far as I' am able, I shall see that nothing is smothered up. I know, and honorable senators opposite know, that if all of the facts are brought to light, the appointment of the royal commission- will be the most disastrous action that the Government has taken against itself.

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